Growing Together: Jewish Family Learning
What topics are covered in Growing Together?
We cover a wide range of topics that are relevant to Jewish traditions, connect to modern families' real lives, and speak to both children and adults. Examples of topics include:
How to be a mensch (good person)
Jewish approaches to helping others and to social justice
Jewish history, people, and community
Stories and values from the Torah
Mitzvot: Making a difference through meaningful actions
Making a bird to "send away" regrets from the past year as we enter the Jewish New Year
We include the spectrum of Jewish religion and spirituality, from connecting through song and dance to critical inquiry. We encourage you to take from it what is authentic for you and your family.
How do you deal with the concept of God?
Judaism offers a variety of sophisticated understandings of God, prayer, and spirituality. Though you may have heard otherwise, Judaism does not teach that God is a “guy in the sky.” We offer a range of understandings for you to explore so you can decide what speaks to you and your family.
How much Hebrew will there be?
You do not need to know any Hebrew to participate fully in the program. We introduce some Hebrew words in our songs, prayers, and activities. Our Hebrew and Open Tent B-Mitzvah (gender-neutral term for bar, bat, and bone mitzvah) program is now being developed. It will be available for our current 5th graders when they transition to 6th and 7th grade.
What ages is the preschool group for?
Children ages 3 - 5 are welcome to be part of the preschool group. As you know, children develop in their own ways and at their own pace. If your child is able to participate in a group without a parent present (after any transition necessary for the first session or two), and to use the bathroom, he or she is eligible for the preschool group. Rabbi Steph will be glad to talk with you about this or any other questions about "fit" for your children.
Can I bring an older sibling?
The 2022-2023 program is for preschoolers through fifth graders. In 2023-2024 we will add sixth grade, the following year seventh grade, and so on.
Will preparation for B-Mitzvah (gender-neutral term for bar or bat mitzvah) be part of the program?
We will offer the option of B-Mitzvah starting in sixth grade, with several choices of the type of learning and ritual this will involve.
Since my child's B-Mitzvah is years away, why not wait until then to participate in Growing Together?
Growing Together is named as it is because it is not only about B-Mitzvah, though we will offer that option. We believe that families need places to grow together; to be supported and to support one another; to build long-term, authentic relationships with others who share their values; and to strengthen family life by sharing meaningful activities and rituals. Jewish tradition, explored in an open and honest environment, can help make this possible. The earlier your family starts to build this, the more fun, community, meaning, and support you will enjoy!
Do children have to come with an adult?
Growing Together is about the family as a whole, so it is important for parents or another adult family member, such as a grandparent, to participate with their children. While we encourage both parents in two-parent families to participate, this is not a requirement.
Why is the program on Saturdays? My child has soccer, dance, or another commitment.
Given that any time has conflicts for some families, gathering on Saturday mornings gives families the opportunity to spend time together, and in a community, sharing Shabbat activities, including singing, prayers, meaningful learning, challah and juice, and a break from the pressures of daily life.
If your child participates in sports, some teams have Sunday and/or weekday options.
Is financial assistance available?
Where does my tuition go?
We are committed to ensuring that financial constraints are never a barrier to participation. At the same time, we rely on tuition to sustain Growing Together.
In order to keep the program accessible, Growing Together's fees are at the low end compared to other local Jewish learning programs for families or children. In addition, since Jewish Gateways does not have membership, the cost of Growing Together only includes tuition, rather than the membership plus tuition you would pay for a comparable program at most synagogues.